Picks and Pans Main: People Picks


No. 1

Masters of Sex

Trouble in the bedroom grows and, worse, lives are unmade in the new season


By now we know all about the joy of sex, but that should not be confused with happiness. That thought arises while watching season 2 of this brilliant series about the turbulent lives and times (and duckings beneath the covers) of sex researchers William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan). Dr. Masters has been forced to find a new hospital for his research, and partner-lover Johnson isn’t sure she’ll wind up anything more than a mistress. (Doc has a wife.) The entire medical community, in fact, seems to be tormented by sexual despair. No one has yet to master life. (Showtime, July 13, 10 p.m.)

No. 2

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

What’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys? An army!


More apes, fewer humans – that’s the simple inverse formula of this excellent sequel, in which chimp leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his colony battle what’s left of San Francisco after a virus has destroyed civilization. Dawn’s simian special effects and motion-capture work are so remarkable, non-apes Gary Oldman and Keri Russell might as well be bowling pins. Caesar’s son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) is an even greater creation: His quizzical eyes are just like Entourage star Kevin Connolly’s. Seriously. (PG-13)

No. 3



A decadent Royal Pains, Rush stars Tom Ellis as a doctor whose rich patients’ medical crises come with shady legal complications. Ellis is smooth, morally repugnant and quite sexy. (USA, July 17, 9 p.m.)

No. 4

Leah Remini: It’s All Relative


The King of Queens star (and ex- Scientologist) nimbly – or perhaps shrewdly – commandeers the camera to turn a vehicle about her family into something very close to a network sitcom. (TLC, Thursdays, 10 p.m.)

No. 5

First Aid Kit: Stay Gold

A Swedish duo with bandaged hearts


Klara and Johanna Söderberg, sisters from Sweden, have created a big, rich-sounding album that straddles American folk, country and pop, only to disappear from time to time down a narrow, lonesome path overhung with tendrils of their own hurt and melancholy. The vocals are earnest and plain, the melodies catchy – yep, it’s gold.

No. 6

The Best New Books

Tasteless hilarity from the brilliant Joan Rivers and two touching novels about families in turmoil

Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands


Bohjalian’s inventive latest imagines a nuclear meltdown in Vermont. Sixteen-year-old Emily loses her father – the plant’s chief engineer—in the accident, and she flees the town to escape its vitriol. Though she ends up homeless, she never gives up on home. Emily’s voice is droll, her journey enthralling and indelible.

Mira Jacob

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing


In this sprawling debut, an Indian family makes a bumpy adjustment to life in the U.S.: There are stormy relationships, mutinous teens, eccentric relatives bearing food and a tragedy that reverberates through the years. With wit and a rich understanding of human foibles, Jacob unspools a story that will touch your heart.


Joan Rivers

Diary of a Mad Diva


At 81, Joan Rivers has a mind that’s filthier than your average teenage boy’s and a wit that slashes like a plastic surgeon’s scalpel – which is fitting, really. No one is spared her viciousness, least of all herself. But in this pseudodiary, whether she is mocking the audience at a Donny Osmond concert (“What’s sweaty, lonely, and weighs 10,000 pounds?”) or touting her idea for a PBS special on anti-Semitism (Stop Bothering the Hebes), she is a brilliant original.


Kate White

Eyes on You

Among the signs that someone has it in for TV host Robin Trainer: Her on-air makeup has been infused with acid. Can she find her evil stalker before it’s too late?

Linda Castillo

The Dead Will Tell

A haunted barn, a hanging body, an old mystery suddenly revived. Murder in Amish country has a certain added frisson, and Castillo’s the master of the genre.

Chevy Stevens

That Night

Wrongly convicted of murdering her sister, Toni Murphy is out of prison and hell-bent on answers. Another chilling psychological thriller from the author of Still Missing.

No. 7

The Strain

There’s no immunity to supernatural terror


Director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) loves monsters the way other people love cats: He strokes them, grooms them, indulges them. To him, a scream is a seductive purr. This new series, which he cocreated, starts very much like FOX’s Fringe: A plane full of dead passengers (or fairly dead) sparks official concern that a freaky disease is on the loose. But the real culprit is a cloaked vampiric beast that arrived from Germany in an ancient casket. The gore, which is carefully doled out, has a deep, unsettling, emotional charge – some of it is even sumptuous. (FX, July 13, 10 p.m.)

No. 8

Morrissey: World Peace Is None of Your Business


With his first album since 2009’s Years of Refusal, the British singer-songwriter still charms with his broody lyrics and quirky delivery. He is the undisputed prince of the peculiar.

No. 9



Discover your next summer trip with this sleek but simple app, which rates and maps out some 500,000 U.S. destinations (hotels, hot spots, restaurants) to help you make the most of those highways and byways. (Roadtrippers.com)

No. 10

The Hotwives of Orlando


Bravo’s Real Housewives has already been given the perfect send-up – Saturday Night Live‘s “Real Housewives of Disney” – but this series knows how to harpoon all the loud, over-the-top drama, including women shouting, “I don’t want drama!” Casey Wilson is a trophy wife mourning a dying husband, even though his only problem is allergies. (Hulu.com, starting July 15)

No. 11

The Divide


An idealistic caseworker (Homeland‘s Marin Ireland) clashes with a powerful D.A. as she races to rescue wrongfully convicted death-row inmates. A passionate series about the unreliable ethics of justice. (WE tv, July 16, 9 p.m.)

No. 12


Man, it’s a classic

MOVIE DRAMA Director Richard Linklater shot this extraordinary movie over 12 years, observing his 7- year-old star, Ellar Coltrane, until he reached 19. The story is very simple—the quotidian life of a boy named Mason—but the cumulative effect is stunning: We watch a fairly ordinary kid mature into a sensitive young man, a worthy, admirable addition to the adult world. (R)

Related Articles